Category Archives: Movie Review

Review: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019).

I am a Godzilla fan. Let me restate that. I am a HUGE Godzilla fan. My credentials? I own every Godzilla movie on either DVD or Blu-Ray and I watch them all on a regular basis. I also have various books and magazines about Godzilla. I also collect Godzilla figures. I have a dozen or so Bandai Godzilla figures and I have 20 high end Godzilla figures made by X-Plus.

Just by viewing the trailers I knew I’d love this movie…and I do! However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some issues with the movie…and I do! First here is some basic background information on the film.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters (released as Godzilla II: King of the Monsters in some markets) is a 2019 American monster film directed by Michael Dougherty and co-written by Dougherty and Zach Shields from a story by Max Borenstein, Dougherty, and Shields. A sequel to Godzilla (2014), it is the 35th film in the Godzilla franchise, the third film in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, and the third Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio.

The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi. It is dedicated to executive producer Yoshimitsu Banno and original Godzilla suit performer Haruo Nakajima, who both died in 2017. In the film, humans must rely on Godzilla to defeat King Ghidorah, who has awakened other Titans to destroy the world.

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I’ve watched and read many reviews online and the consensus of those that gave the movie a negative review is that the human aspect of the story is chaotic, nonsensical and ultimately boring with uninteresting characters. This is where I disagree. I found the main characters very interesting and this increased my overall enjoyment of the movie.

This movie takes place in the aftermath of the 2014 Godzilla attacks and fights against the MUTOS. The fact that giant monsters, called Titans, do exist and both science and the government struggle with what to do with them creates the conflict and tensions that feed both the plot and overall tone of the film. The main characters, Dr. Emma Russell, a paleobiologist who works for the Titan-studying organization Monarch and her daughter Madison, are captured by a group of eco-terrorists, led by Alan Jonah, that suddenly attack the base, slaughtering everyone and kidnaps Emma and Madison. This occurs right after Emma and Madison witness the birth of a larva dubbed Mothra. Emma calms Mothra down with the “Orca”, a device capable of emitting frequencies that can attract or alter Titan behavior. Mothra flees and pupates under a waterfall.

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Monarch scientists Dr. Ishirō Serizawa and Dr. Vivienne Graham approach former employee Dr. Mark Russell, Emma’s ex-husband and Madison’s father, to help track them down. Mark is reluctant at first, due to his hatred for Godzilla (whom he blames for the death of Madison’s brother Andrew), but he eventually agrees. The Monarch team follows Godzilla to Antarctica, where Jonah intends to free a three-headed Titan codenamed “Monster Zero”.

Emma frees and awakens Monster Zero, which kills several Monarch members, including Dr. Graham, before battling Godzilla and escaping. The team then learn that Emma was not kidnapped by the terrorists, but is secretly working with them. Emma contacts Monarch and argues that the Titans must be awakened in order to heal the Earth from the damages that humans have caused. Many Titans, such as Rodan are set loose to carry out Emma’s and Jonah’s plan. This leaves Godzilla as the sole weapon to combat the other Titans and defend the earth.

In a nut shell, that is the basic plot. At the heart of the story is a family destroyed by the trauma of a giant monster attack that took the life of their son and how they find a way to make sense of their grief. Stuck in between the warring parents is Madison and it is up to her to decide which parent she will support and that will have a measurable effect on the outcome. Also, Emma’s motivation for releasing the Titans is very similar to the motivation Thanos had in Avengers Endgame. Both antagonist felt that by destroying the majority of humanity they could heal the destruction caused by humanity. In their eyes they aren’t doing evil, but an overall good in the context of the bigger picture.

I actually enjoyed the conflicts with in this family. It led to very good character development. Is very easy to create black and white, good and bad simplistic characters. This movie gave the characters motivations that were complex. Both Emma and her ex-husband, Mark Russell believe that their motives completely justified. Both are wrong and it takes the actions of their daughter (and Godzilla) to prove that. This is why I disagree with the negative reviews. Millie Bobby Brown is particularly outstanding in her big screen debut.

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But most people don’t watch Godzilla movies for the human story, we come to see Godzilla movies for their giant monster action, fights and throw downs. This movie has these in abundance and it is extremely satisfying! Much of the monster on monster action takes place in the background with the humans in the foreground. I enjoy this aspect of the action scenes for the most part. It creates a sense of scale that displays the giant size of these monsters in a way rarely seen in Toho’s movies. The only minor quibble about this is that I would have liked to have seen a little more lengthy focus on the monsters themselves and their battles.

The four major Kaiju from Toho’s panoply of monsters, Gozilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghodirah have been all redesigned. Even Godzilla has been updated since the 2014 movie. This incarnation of Godzilla is sporting new dorsal plates that resemble the 1954 original. His eyes are slightly larger, his feet have also been enlarged but his tail is a bit shorter.

This design of King Ghidorah is my favorite ever of this Kaiju. Although I’ve liked the Toho version of the monster I never cared for his wing design. His wings just seemed attached to him and beyond his control and worked independently of him. This design takes care of that issue. His wings are attached with armlike appendages similar to a bat. This way you can see Ghidorah flap and control his wings. Below is some fan art that demonstrates this point.

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One of my issues with the movie is the color saturation and pallet. The above pictures scattered through my review demonstrates this issue. With the majority of the Kaiju battles taking place during inclement weather, along with this color saturation, renders the CGI creatures a bit unrealistic or not so lifelike from time to time. This doesn’t happen all the time but enough for me for it to be an issue. I just hope with next years Godzilla vs King Kong they have some Monster scenes in the daytime!

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Director Michael Dougherty really did make this movie for the fans. The movie has tons of Easter eggs and nods to the franchise. Some have complained that this constitutes fan service and that it is just there to please the fans without any real relationship to the film. I found only one moment like that and it is the reference to the Oxygen Destroyer. It actually made me cringe! It was definitely there for the fans. They could have named this weapon anything. The problem is that the two times this trope was used (in the 1954 original and the 1995 movie Godzilla vs Destroyer) it was vital and essential to the plot. In this movie it wasn’t that essential, at least the name wasn’t, it just came out of the blue, it didn’t work and was never heard from again. If you’re going to use this iconic symbol of the franchise I think it needs to be used in a manner that is more vital to the plot and not a throwaway reference to please the fans.

All in all this was what I expected from a Godzilla movie. An enjoyable story with great special effects and thrilling monster on monster fights in a tone that is fun and mixed equally with both drama and humor.

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Avengers Endgame: Review

There will be spoilers!

Avengers Endgame completes the “Infinity Saga” of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that began with the premiere of Iron Man in the United States on May 2, 2008. Avengers Endgame really wraps this saga up in an epic and fantastic fashion! Is it a perfect movie? No! Is it completely enjoyable? Absolutely! The movie does involve time travel as our gallant superheroes try to undo the fatal snap perpetuated by Thanos in Avengers Infinity War and time travel often create glaring plot holes and that is the major issue with Avengers Endgame.

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Personally, I just absolutely love time travel movies despite the plot holes they create. I’ve read on line from those that have a less favorable view of this film suggest that the time travel trope is a cop out and an easy way to resolve the problem of undoing Thanos’s snap. I disagree. I found the time travel elements to the story created some exciting and humorous events. When the Avengers, along with newcomer Captain Marvel, go to defeat Thanos after the snap, where he’s destroyed the Infinity Stones, Thor, in his anger and frustration, decapitates a greatly weakened Thanos which makes permanent the losses that occurred in the snap.

The film jumps ahead five years later. Captain Marvel has returned to space where she can be more useful. Thor has moved to New Asgard where he has gotten fat and out of shape from eating pizza, drinking beer and playing the video game Fortnight with Korg. Captain America is running a support group and Tony Stark has married Pepper Potts and had a daughter, while Bruce Banner has integrated his alter ego, the Hulk, into a hybrid being known as “Professor Hulk” (although this name is not mentioned in the movie). As the Avengers, or what’s left of them, adjust to this new existence, hope springs from one of the smallest places.

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Ant-Man, stuck in the Quantum Realm, is finally, shall I say accidentally, released from there…by a rat! Scott Lang (Ant-Man) confronts Captain America and Black Widow (Natasha Romanov) and tries to convince them that time travel to gather the Infinity Stones before Thanos can get ahold of them is their only choice to undo the snap. What ensues is an elaborate scheme of the Avengers, divided into groups, traveling back in time to gather the Infinity Stones and by so doing revisit certain moments in previous films. They’re successful in gathering the stones and just as the Hulk reverses the snap the Avengers are attacked by Thanos of the past after he had been alerted by his daughter Nebula who uncovered the Avengers plans. From there an epic and final battle between the forces of Thanos and the vast forces of the Aveng commences.

The final battle is truly epic and amazing.

Each character has their moment to shine in this very crowded movie! However, I do want to mention a few characters and my overall thoughts on the movie.

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I do like the merger of Bruce Banner and the Hulk into Professor Hulk. It’s funny and entertaining and an interesting solution to the Banner/Hulk dichotomy. My minor complaint is we really don’t get to see the Hulk rampaging. Sure, we have a few moments where we see the past Hulk smashing things, but when it comes to the final battle Professor Hulk doesn’t do too much at all, and since he is supposed to be one of the most powerful of the Avengers, his ineffectiveness is a bit disappointing.

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I really got a kick out of The Big Labowski version of Thor. Although come the time of the epic final battle Thor wasn’t as mighty and powerful as he’d been in Avengers Infinity War and elsewhere in the series. Thor was initially supposed to revert back to his “old chiseled self” in the middle of Endgame, but Hemsworth successfully argued in favour of retaining Thor’s aged and out of shape physique. Again, this left me slightly disappointed. Although, I was happy to see Thor wielding Mjolnir once again because I do prefer it over Stormbreaker.

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Captain Marvel has fast become my favorite character. At the end of Infinity War we see Nick Fury contacting her via the modified pager. One of the things I love about Superman (yes, I’m aware he’s D.C. and this is Marvel) is when he easily swoops in to save the day. I really had high hopes that Captain Marvel would play an equally significant role in defeating Thanos. I wasn’t too disappointed because she did have some shinning moments, such as crashing through Thanos’s ship. Although Thanos was able to defeat her with one of the Infinity Stones, much to my chagrin, I did think it was pretty awesome when Thanos head butted her and she didn’t even flinch!

However, as I thought about it, this really wasn’t going to be her moment shine. This isn’t her movie. She’s new to the Avengers and the MCU in general. In truth this was Captain America and Iron Man’s movie. It was their story arch that was resolved.

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Yes this is Captain America’s movie. It was very satisfying seeing Captain America wielding Mjolnir and possessing the power of Thor (as Odin said those who were worthy would). For Captain America was indeed worthy to pick up Thor’s hammer. For years he denied his own wants and wishes in service of doing that which is good and that which is right. And after years of service and aiding in defeating Thanos, and after returning the Infinity Stones, Cap gets to live out the life he’d given up and marries Peggy Carter. His story arch comes to its conclusion in a a most satisfying way.

This is also Iron Man’s movie. When we first met Tony Stark back in 2008 he was a narcissistic booze addled womanizer. Flash forward to the events of Avengers Endgame. Tony is a responsible father and willing to put everything on the line to defeat Thanos. When Doctor Strange signals to Iron Man that they are indeed in the only scenario, out of millions, where Thanos is defeated, Tony knows what to do. This former narcissistic booze addled womanizer pays the ultimate and selfless price by giving his life in exchange for all others. This altruistic act, while very sad to watch, is also beautifully poignant and emotionally satisfying as one of the best characters in the MCU redeems himself.

In the end the resolution of the story arch of both Captain America and Iron Man is what makes Avengers Endgame a truly great and rewarding movie.

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So, I like “crappy” movies!

This may seem like a bit of a rant and perhaps it is to some degree.

I’m not a film critic. I’m actually a pretty easygoing and forgiving viewer. Now that doesn’t mean I like every movie I see. I have turned off movies I don’t like, even walked out of a theater a couple of times. That also doesn’t mean I can’t critique a film, I do, I’m just not someone who views a movie with critiquing in mind. At my age I know what I like, I know what type of stories I enjoy and these days I’m rarely disappointed.

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I’m really not a film snob, I had a friend who would snub anything he considered too commercial, and I’m open to many types of films. Movies to me are a form of art but to me I also enjoy the mindless escapism the types of movies I enjoy. I don’t mind serious film, but following on my last entry on how I loved the more lighthearted fare of the Science-Fiction films from the 90s, the types of movies I like are those that have a fun aspect to them.

I also feel many professional critics can be a bit snobbish and harsh. From a psychological perspective many people think negatively and even cynically and bring that into their criticisms. I’ve read some reviews that were more cynicism than critique.

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Since judging art is so subjective, bad reviews generally don’t put me off on a film. I enjoy reading criticism of films but I don’t let them sway me and will judge for myself whether or not I enjoy a film.

I like to read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I disagree where they put their fresh rating. I say if a movie has 51% rating that means a majority of critics liked a movie, albeit a small majority. So deeming a movie “Fresh” at 60% is a bit arbitrary.

What I’ve noticed is that within my DVD collection there are many movies from the Science-Fiction and Fantasy film genres that did not get fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. It goes to show that I really don’t listen to critics much. Also, I find, on social media anyway, no matter what movie is announced, haters come pouring out of the woodwork as if Pavlov rang his bell and his dogs begun salivating. People seem negative in general and closed minded. Nasty people have come along and questioned my taste in movies but in the end I like what I like with no apologies and what others think of my tastes matters not.

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Here, in no particular order, are movies from my collection that have received a not so fresh rating.

Seventh Son – 20%

The Great Wall – 35%

Gods of Egypt – 15%

Jupiter Ascending – 26%

GeoStorm – 14%

Independence Day Resurgence – 30%

Batman & Robin – 10%

Judge Dredd (199?) – 17%

The Scorpion King – 41%

Journey 2 the Mysterious Island – 45%

Godzilla (1998) – 16%

The Day After Tomorrow – 44%

Van Helsing – 23%

Planet of the Apes (2001) – 45%

The Time Machine (2002) – 29%

Alien Trespass – 34%

Land of the Loss – 26%

Race to Witch Mountain – 43%

Skyline – 16%

Cowboys and Aliens – 43%

Green Lantern – 26%

Battleship – 34%

After Earth – 11%

John Carter – 51% *

GI Joe: Rise of Cobra – 35%

GI Joe: Retaliation – 29%

Pixels – 17%

Man of Steel – 56% *

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – 26%

Justice League – 40%

Power Rangers – 45%

Velarian and the City of a Thousand Planets – 49%

Pacific Rim: Uprising – 46%

Clash of the Titans – 28%

Wrath of the Titans – 26%

Immortals – 36%

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – 36%

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – 44%

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – 22%

Star Trek: Generations – 49%

Star Trek: Insurrection – 55% *

Star Trek: Nemesis- 38%

* I included a few that do have an above 50% rating but those are still technically considered rotten.

# I also only included the 1998 American Godzilla movie even though there are many Japanese Godzilla movies that also have rotten railings. I will cover them someday on my new Godzilla Designs blog. https://godzilladesigns.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/the-eras-of-godzilla-films/

Kong: Skull Island

I want to preface this Spoiler Free review by stating I’m a huge Godzilla fan, own all the movies, and I love them. As super fan of giant monsters, Kaiju and other films that feature strange beasts, this movie has everything a Kaiju fan could ask for. Great special effects, superb actors, giant monster battles, human drama, some comic relief all woven into a captivating and engaging story.

This Kong is not the same as the one depicted in the 1933, 1976 & 2005 movies. No this Kong is molded after the 1962 Kong featured in Toho Studios film “King Kong vs. Godzilla. In fact the Kong depicted in “Kong: Skull Island” will grow up to fight the Godzilla from the 2014 Legendary Studios film “Godzilla.” I look forward to when hese two juggernauts will battle toe-to-toe in their own feature film “Godzilla vs. King Kong” in 2020. This time out Godzilla will get top billing.

But in this movie Kong is King and the star of the show. Rendered wonderfully in detailed CGI Kong is brought to life and is the focal point. He isn’t the only star shinning in this extravaganza though. Delivering stellar performances are John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson (any movie he is in is made even more enjoyable), Tom Hiddleston, the lovely Brie Larson and John C. Rilley. I do want to say a little more about John C. Rilley. From the trailers I knew going in he would provided some comic relief. I was fine with that because I do not always care for dark and gritty films and like a balance of emotions in movies. I feared that his comic relief may render the movie too comical and that it wouldn’t be taken seriously. Yes, John C. Rilley does provide comic relief but that isn’t all. He is not only central to the plot he has some very serious and dramatic moments and I am safe to report his excellent performance really steals the show.

All in all this is a very satisfying entry into Legendary’s Monsterverse and it sets up more films in the franchise that I eagerly await.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

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In my effort to restart this blog I need to catch up on some movie reviews. Since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was just released, how about I review the movie that came out before it! LOL!

As I have said before I am a huge Star Trek fan but I also love Star Wars too…just not as much as Trek. Yet, I always thought there was something in the aesthetic and pacing of Star Wars that Star Trek should borrow and learn from. When JJ Abrams, a lover of Star Wars, directed the 2009 reboot movie, Star Trek, my wish came true. In the feel and look of the movie there are elements of Star Wars in that Star Trek film and although some fans noticed that too and complained…I was not one of them. Therefore, when the next trilogy in Star Wars was going to be filmed, it seemed only natural that JJ Abrams would be selected to direct this movie.

I want to comment on one of the complaints The Force Awakened received from the minority of the people that did not like it. The complaint is that it is just a rehash or is derivative of the original 1977 film Star Wars, later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I certainly do not deny this accusation. I actually embrace it and it is one of the reasons I do enjoy this movie greatly.

Some have complained that nostalgia is one of its selling points and I have no shame in agreeing with that. I was 14 in 1977 when the original movie came out and I loved it! It had a huge impact on me. So seeing Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia on the big screen was a huge part of this movie. That doesn’t mean the rest of the story wasn’t good, it was, even if it has elements of the first movie, it does!

Luke has disappeared and it has been thirty years since the Death Star was once again blown up and the Empire defeated. However, evil has not gone away. We have new characters that are very interesting to me. the rebelling storm trooper, Finn, the scavenger, Rey, and Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and General Leia, are all great additions to the Star Wars universe. The movie leaves us with a mystery of who is this woman Ren who wields the Force so easily? The special effects are excellent as JJ Abrams wisely knows how to weave practical effects with the CGI.

I will not reveal any spoilers of this movie. I will say this is/was a great way to start the new trilogy. It is visually stunning with everything you would want to see in a Star Wars movie. Although it does have elements of the original story, they are done with respect and reverence to the original.

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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice…a review.

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I cannot believe I have not yet reviewed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first pairing in live action of the two most iconic Superheroes in the world. There was a ton of expectation riding on this movie. The movie was heavily criticized by the professional pundits and under performed at the box office although it still made the studio money. One of the reasons for this is that the studio did not put out the three hour extended cut of the films into the theater. What was released to the theater was a truncated version of the film that was not very coherent in places. Note to film studio. Leave Zack Snyder alone and let him do his job, he knows what he is doing!

Therefore this review will be of the theatrical cut.

All movies do have their flaws…which is simply another way of saying “I would have done it differently” and although this movie is no exception the Pros greatly out weight any Cons it may have. I really enjoyed this movie so without further delay, the Pros and Cons of this film. Cons won the coin toss so they will go first. 🙂

Cons:

The story, even in the Extended Cut, still has some issues. The scene in the desert where Lois is interviewing a terrorist and then all hell breaks loose, it really isn’t too clear what is happening. One example, Batman brands his criminals and they end up getting killed in jail/prison…but the movie never tells you why they are being killed in jail or the motives for killing them.

Alfred. I think over all Jeremy Irons did a good job but his cynicism got old after a while. Plus, if he thinks Batman was going down the wrong road and becoming something corrupt, then you would think that he would have confronted Bruce long before he did in this movie. It seems Alfred was just as jaded as Batman was in this movie.

Death of Superman. I do understand that his sacrifice was to show the world that he truly is a force for good in the world and that he will use his powers to help and not hurt. However, maybe my objection is more about the elaborate funeral they gave Superman, because it all seems too soon because it really doesn’t feel Superman truly earned the accolades and the grief. In the movie Superman has been around less than two years and there is much controversy surrounding him, he certainly isn’t universally loved.

Death of Clark Kent. This is unprecedented. Sure, they have shown Superman die in the comics and animated movies, but they always have found a way to excuse Clark’s disappearance until Superman returns. This movie paints quite a dilemma where they are acknowledging both Clark and Superman are dead! How can they bring both back without the world knowing Clark Kent is Superman!?

Pros:

Good Story. Despite the story being muddled at times the story is very interesting and engaging. It really is not a story about Batman and Superman fighting, it is a story of redemption for both iconic characters.

Superman’s character arc. I like the idea in this universe where Superman isn’t a Mary Sue Boy-scout where everyone except the villains despise him and don’t trust him. In the real world we would have people truly fear and distrust Superman so I like that realistic approach and  how Superman has to cope with that reality especially in the face of life taking disasters committed to tarnish his name.

Batman’s Character arc. I love how this is an older and cynical and jaded Batman who has gone through many tragedies himself. We see that Robin is dead, Wayne Manor has been burned to the ground and Batman is an outlaw. I loved the scene where we fist see Batman in the room where he just branded the criminal and he is lurking in the shadows. Classic Batman! I also like how Batman comes to once again have faith in humanity restored. The scene where he rescues Martha Kent in the warehouse is the best live action scene of Batman ever put to film.

Special effects. Excellent. I love any time Superman takes flight!! Doomsday is created with such life-likeness! Great eye candy!

Good pacing. Even though the Extended Cut is three hours long the movie flows well without any slow spots at all.

Lex Luthor. I think Jesse Eisenberg was great as Luthor…yes he is Lex Luthor and not the son of Lex as many claim, he was bitter, psychotic and unpredictable.

Wonder Woman. What can I say? She was awesome! Gal Gadot was simply amazing as Wonder Woman and Diana Prince and she stole the show! I also loved the cameo glimpses of Aquaman and The Flash and Cyborg!!

I want to close by speaking of the controversial Martha scene. Sure, it is a bit cheesy but I do understand what they were doing and I think it was a great idea and worked although all it needed maybe was one line of dialogue. That was the moment Batman realized how far he had fallen and that he had become the very thing he had dedicated his life to fighting against. If Batman would have said that to Lois and Superman in some verbal way, I think it would have helped.

I really enjoyed this movie despite some of its flaws. All-in-all a good introduction of Batman in the DCEU and I look forward to more movies with these characters!

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Warcraft: Review

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First I must confess I am not a big gamer. I am basically still into all the Super Mario games and a couple of 1080 Snowboarding games. I am however, familiar with massively multiplayer online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest. Having seen both of these games played I was very eager to see this movie, plus, I love fantasy films.

I was not disappointed.

Warcraft (alternatively known as Warcraft: The Beginning) is a 2016 American action-fantasy film directed by Duncan Jones and written by Jones, Charles Leavitt and Chris Metzen. It is based on the Warcraft video game series and novels set in the world of Azeroth. The film stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky and Daniel Wu. The film portrays the initial encounters between the humans and the orcs and takes place in a variety of locations established in the video game series.

Its movies like this that make me love being a nerd! It’s escapist fun like this is why such movies are being made. This movie actually did poorly with the critics and at the Box office. It has a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, although 73% of the viewing audience liked it. On Box Office Mojo it did only $47 million domestically on a $160 million budget. However, it made a further $386 million over seas for a grand total of $433 million world wide. That will give the film a profit and hopefully a sequel will not be out of the question. I think the poor performance sadly demonstrates that movies like this do need to reach out beyond their fan base and find a way to appeal to a broader audience.

I think I will eliminate my pros and cons because I didn’t find much about the movie I didn’t like…except for one thing. Although I enjoyed the story and the characters greatly the story was a bit confusing at times and my unfamiliarity with the story/game made it difficult for me to always understand what was going on and who some of these characters were. I’m sure on repeated viewings I will comprehend things better.

I want to conclude this by talking about the CGI in this movie. The Orcs are done with motion capture and while there is a lot of blue screen CGI there are also practical effects woven into the movie. I have heard complaints that the CGI isn’t always that great. I did enjoy the effects and I love movies like this because they do such a great job in creating a fantasy world.

I see many people comparing this to other fantasy movies such as Lord of the Rings or Avatar. While I think the CGI is of the same quality, I think the end results are different. That difference is that Warcraft does look like the how the video game it is named after would look like had it come to life. In other words, it still rightfully maintains a look or verisimilitude that exemplifies and represents a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, but on a larger life-like scale. In my view the look of the movie is the best of both worlds, life-like fantasy elements married to video game elements and along with an engaging story are the reasons this movie is very enjoyable.

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Independence Day Resurgence (Review)

id4-gallery2-gallery-imageI am a big fan of the original Independence Day and I saw it four times in the theater and at least 3 times a year ever since. I understand that the sequel was not liked by fans and critics alike. I did enjoy Independence Day Resurgence but my feelings are mixed. I have watched it several times to sort out just how I felt about this movie. First of all, I JUST love alien invasion movies and that on its own will already earn some praise from me.

One point I want to make is that if a person goes into this movie expecting it to be similar or just like the original ID4 then they are bound to be disappointed. If, however, you approach this with an open mind and accept the movie for what it is…a lighthearted science-fiction action and adventure movie…I think there are things in this film to enjoy.

I will review the movie by revealing my pros & cons. Remember, not all pros and cons are of equal value. I will start with the cons first.

1). Too many characters. Its not that I wasn’t able to keep track of them, its just that there were too many to keep track of and that bogged down the story.

2). Not enough tension. I think with the concentration and focus on the many relationships the movie lost a sense of dread and immanent danger annihilation the first movie had. I never had that sense of tension that our characters were in real trouble.

3) Poor pacing. The original was well paced and I think the poor pacing of this movie is due to trying to cram the stories of all the characters within this movie.

Now for the pros.

1). I liked the focus on the original characters and it was good to see them back! I specifically liked the performances of Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun. Spiner’s character had much more screen time and did provide comic relief and was just a hoot. For those who think his character died watch the original once again. As the alien is using him to speak through, Okun’s fingers are against the glass and are moving showing he is alive. Plus, when we first see Dr. Okun in IDR he is shown moving his fingers before he awakes. That is a nice subtle touch!

2). Great Special Effects. I am unapologetic about my love of eye candy known as special effects. This movie was a delight on the eyes and senses and for me that was very entertaining.

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3). The Alien Queen. I am also a lover of Kaiju movies (giant monsters) and the Alien Queen was just great as a giant monster…Loved it!

4). More Science-Fiction. i loved how they showed how much the earth has changed due to the incorporation of alien technology on the human race. Although this could also fit under the special effects reasons why I enjoyed the movie, I single this out because it was done so well and it is what made the movie different from the original (in a good way).

5). Action and adventure. This had a lot of action, more aliens, great battles and ton of destruction porn!

6). Decent story. Despite the character overload the story is pretty good. I did care about the characters, I hated to see Jasmine Hiller’s character die, and it was interesting and entertaining how they all got together to save the Earth once more.

Sure, I don’t exactly enjoy it as I did the original but this movie does have a lot going for me. I am very certain this alien invasion movie will have repeated viewings in my house.

 

Sky High: a review

Over the years as much as I try and stay up on movies coming out there are times one will slip past my radar. Sky High was one of those movies. I had not even heard of it before this past winter!

Here is a quick write-up from Wikipedia.

Sky High is a 2005 American superhero comedy film about an airborne school for teenage superheroes. It was directed by Mike Mitchell, and written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley and Mark McCorkle. The starring cast includes Michael Angarano as Will, an incoming freshman at the school, Danielle Panabaker as his best friend and love interest, Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a popular senior, Steven Strait as Will’s rival, and Lynda Carter as Principal Powers.

This movie is a mixture of a teen comedy and a superhero movie. Basically, the premise is Will Stronghold is off to his Freshman year of high school and if that wasn’t stressful enough his parents are The Commander and Jetstream the world’s most powerful and best loved superheroes. To continue adding to the young Will’s stress is the fact that he hasn’t developed his superpowers yet so he may be regulated to “sidekick” status.

This movie is funny and fully of charm. Everyone is one their game. Michael Angarano is excellent as Will as he struggles with class status, the girls in his life, his loving but demanding father and finding a way to fit in while he wonders if he will ever get his superpowers. Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents are particularly great in this movie. Two actors that really steal the show are Dave Foley (no relation) as Jonathan Boy / All-American Boy. He is the Commander’s old sidekick but now works as a Hero Support teacher (aka Sidekick) at Sky High. The other scene stealer is Kevin McDonald as Professor Medulla, the bulbous headed Mad Science teacher. He gives me the most laughs.

The movie is lighthearted fun and never for a moment takes itself seriously. However, despite the tongue firmly implanted this movie has a lot of heart without being too sentimental or schmaltzy. In other words the movie strikes a perfect tone. Will learns what real love looks like and all the nerdy sidekicks, I mean those in hero support, get to find out what it means to be areal hero.

This is a fun, charming and entertaining movie that I cannot recommend enough for those that either like teens comedies, or for those who remember their teens years and its struggles…of, yeah this movie is also for those who love the superhero genre.

Jupiter Ascending

To begin this review I will start with a mini right up from Wikipedia:

Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 American-Australian space opera film written, produced, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. Starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, the film is centered on Jupiter Jones (Kunis), an ordinary cleaning woman, and Caine Wise (Tatum), an interplanetary warrior who informs Jones that her destiny extends beyond Earth.

This is going to be a mixed review. I think the little summary is pretty accurate. I will expand on it just a little. Yes, this will have some mini spoilers. Jupiter Jones has become Queen of the Earth and there are two factions, one to protector her and the other that wants to rob her of her new inheritance. That is it. That is the story. However, I have to say the movie is a bit of a mess. Although for me it is an enjoyable mess! The story is basically easy to follow, the main part of it is anyway, its just that there are subplots and plethora of characters I was not able to always figure out what they had to do with the story!

I do not apologize for the fact that I am easy to please as a viewer and I love CGI and special affects and this movie is great in creating a wonderful spectacle of eye candy. This movie does transport you to other worlds that are beautiful to look at and also helps you experience the story. I think that is what is positive about the film. Essentially the movie is a love story with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum as the central focus and when we are with them we see Mila experience these new worlds and experience them along with her and when Channing Tatum is protecting her we experience these worlds from his perspective and that is when the movie is at its best.

Another positive aspect about the film is actor Eddie Redmayne who plays BaleLana m Abrasax, Emperor of the House of Abrasax. Balem is the eldest of the three Abrasax heirs. Balem controls the wealthiest business empire in the known universe from a gigantic refinery in the Great Red Spot of the planet Jupiter. If you want to know what his business is think Soylent Green, but not as a food product but as a fountain of youth type of beauty product. The emperor feels threatened by Jupiter Jones’ claim to the Earth and attempts to stop her. Actor Eddie Redmayne, who just won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the movie the History of Everything, really steals the show as the deliciously evil emperor. He would give Tom Hiddleston as Loki a run for the money as an evil character. Although I do like this movie it could be better and in many ways and in my opinion Eddie Redmayne desrves to play an evil character in a better movie. His obvious talent is wasted here.

Jupiter Ascending is an enjoyable film full of great special affects and an interesting yet muddled story that is carried by the strength of its three important leads, Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne. I do recommend this movie albeit with some cautions.